NHS England (NHSE) has published the service specification for the 2023/24 Covid vaccination programme, which includes a reduction in fee of 25%.
Dr Nick Thayer, Head of Policy said:
“Vaccination is one of the most important public health interventions available to the NHS. Community pharmacy has an excellent track record of providing many different vaccines, with a crucial role in the flu and COVID programme. All pharmacies now have the opportunity to provide COVID vaccines, a huge vote of confidence in the sector’s ability to increase uptake. However, the unprecedented reduction in COVID fees may impact the viability of the service.
As with all fees, influenza must reflect the growing costs of doing business. There is currently an annual shortfall in funding of more than £750m. This equates to more than £67,000 per pharmacy. Increasing workloads, new services, and inflationary hikes against a fixed sum is not sustainable. We are seeing this through continued and increasing numbers of pharmacy closures.
Pharmacies will have to make a difficult decision between providing important services for their patients and meeting the financial realities of managing a business. There is a risk that patient access will suffer as a result of policy maker’s decisions. The NHS and the government should think again and review the available investment for vaccination programmes.”